Hirundo subis Linnaeus, 1758. OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Hirondelle noire; German: Purpurschwalbe; Spanish: Golondrina de Iglesias.
7 in (18 cm); 1.7 oz (48 g). The male is colored overall a glossy, iridescent purple-black, with darker wings, while the female is brownish with a lighter belly.
Breeds widely in North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico. It migrates to spend the non-breeding season in central South America.
Inhabits open areas near suitable nesting sites, often near water. BEHAVIOR
A long distance migrant, it winters in southern parts of its range (Venezuela to southeastern Brazil). During migration it often gathers in large flocks. Attracts a mate and defends a nest site by song and aerial maneuvers. The song is a low-pitched, bubbling twitter.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Feeds on insects that are caught in flight.
Monogamous. Breeds in colonies in special, apartment-style nest-boxes with individual compartments, or in a dead, hollow tree. It may be non-colonial at natural nesting sites. Typically lays a clutch of four to six eggs. The eggs are incubated by the female, but both parents feed the young.
Not threatened. A locally abundant species, although declining over parts of its range. The practice of removing dead trees with cavities has reduced nesting sites, and introduced species also compete for nesting cavities.
A familiar and popular bird to many people. An occupied apartment nest-box is highly prized, because of the lively nature of the martins and the fact that they eat such large numbers of irritating insects, such as mosquitoes. ♦
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